Travel With Bender

Uncovering the best family holidays

Penang, Malaysia

3 Days in Penang With My Best Friend

You know when you just know someone. You met them and already you are talking 100 miles an hour, laughing and there’s that connection that while you may have just met, it had to have been destiny, ordained, planned, because that person completes you. I’m not talking about my soul mate, although my husband completes me in most ways and I love him to pieces. I’m talking about the moment you meet your best friend.  

(*Disclaimer: Josh, you are my best friend in the whole wide world, nothing can change that. You are the apple of my eye and the love of my life. But a girls got to have a girl best friend too. :D)

For me it was a hot January in Perth. My tiny first-born child was merely a month old and freakin the life out of me. What the heck was I doing? I started attending a local Mother’s group with all newborn mums. 2 seats away from me was a very well dressed and well-maintained blonde girl. Young, attractive, straight hair, polished nails and her baby? Baby Guess, adorable face, as small as my baby, but older looking in the face. I knew the moment I saw her we would be great friends. See this picture here? Indy on the left, Mia on the right. 

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Sharelle is one of those mums a girl loves to hate, but inside is secretly daydreaming of how to be more like. She is always immaculate in dress, her hair is always perfect and she wears high heels still. Her little girl, Indy is every bit the princess as well, an award winning ballerina at 4! It’s been nearly 4 years since I met these two ladies and I love ‘em!

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Mia and Indy have spent sometime every week together since they were born. Every birthday party, every weekend, there wasn’t much time they missed each other. Just like their mums. I was honoured to be part of Sharelle's wedding, to be a model for her tanning business and party at all her birthdays. Our instant friendship sparked into something so much more wonderful since having girls the same age.

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And then I told her I was going around the world… indefinitely.

It’s been 5 months since we left Perth and my friendship with Sharelle did not break. She has already visited us twice. 2 weeks in Bali and 3 days here in Penang. We still talk every week, she is still just as beautiful as when I left and distance has not come between us. Nevertheless, after I spent my first day in Penang, I could not contain my excitement of having my best friend join us… And the mistake I made as a mother was telling my daughter one month before and explaining every day that Indy is coming soon.

Soon arrived!

Day One

Sharelle, her husband Quintin and Indy were staying at the Hard Rock Hotel. We arrived just seconds after they had checked in and they came back downstairs for a flurry of hugs and kisses and jaw-stretching grins.

All of us very hungry we jumped in a cab and headed to this giant pirate ship steak restaurant. The steak was good for $12. There was lots of talk and finally we put it on hold as the kids were running rampant around the restaurant and drove back to the Hard Rock.

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The rest of the afternoon was spent on the slides at the Hard Rock Penang pool. These slides are fabulous for the kids and Mia, Indy, Caius and the boys had a hell of a time. We spent all afternoon there basking in our beautiful friendships. Please don’t puke; it really was just the best afternoon.

The kids were exhausted so we availed ourselves with a hotel babysitter and left all three kids lying in bed watching movies. And as 4 carefree young adults headed to Long Beach for our very first Penang experience. I swear we spent no more than $15 on all of us and it was delicious. The satay, the roti, the curry – yum!

After that we hit the night markets. On my way to Hard Rock earlier that day I had no idea where the markets were and was quizzing my Penang bible (Mary) on where to go. She was like it’s everywhere. Haha. It wasn’t until we headed out about 7:30pm that night we realised they are everywhere.

Out of nowhere little stalls were now lining the streets with watches, clothes, toys, bags, etc. As Sharelle and I do best we had a grand time wandering around shopping and generally enjoying being kid-free for the 3 hours we hired the sitter. 

Before long we were back home collecting our still wide awake, over-stimulated children from the sitter and heading back to our house with plans to meet early again the next day.

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Day Two

The Hard Rock hotel supplies a free kids club for all their guests. Mia and Indy wanted to go, so we booked them in for the day and set off for Georgetown with just Caius on board (& a stroller, thank God they brought a stroller). Our taxi driver dropped us off at a similar Hawker Food Market like Long Beach and we had more cheap, divine food. After that we walked to get our car from LaBelle.

Finally our own wheels, so much easier to do what we want and go where we want. And what us girls wanted was a trip to Prangin Mall. We spent the majority of the afternoon looking at shoes and clothes, the boys separating briefly to check out gizmos and gadgets.

We eventually headed back to the Hard Rock to free the girls from the Kids Club and take everyone back to Long Beach for dinner. An early night this night, because tomorrow we had another big day planned.

While staying at the Hard Rock Sharelle and Quintin were privy to the Club Lounge. This lounge offered breakfast, afternoon tea and cocktail hour. After speaking to staff, they kindly offered us the same deal without the room for $25 each. So generous of them. So we would be back the next day for more Hard Rock Hotel fun!

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Day Three

We arrive at the Hard Rock for our breakfast (included in the Club Lounge package) and eat in the downstairs main area. The food is normal buffet style, nothing to rave about, nothing to mope about.

Mia and Indy want to do Kids Club again so they can swim and dance on the stage so we pop them in and head (with Caius) to Gurney. The boys break off immediately opting on massages, so Sharelle, Caius and I do more shopping. The Reject Shop is a winner for Caius & Mia in brand name clothes at basement prices.

We make it back to the Hard Rock for afternoon tea. Drinks, little cakes and sandwiches it was enough for lunch and boy did we indulge. After we were all full Josh, Mia and Caius head home for a nap, Quintin & Indy head to the pool, Sharelle and I head to the Hard Rock Spa. My beautiful best friend’s birthday was happening a few days after she left Penang so I wanted to celebrate in style with her. We opted for the 2.5 hour Diva Experience at a lavish $110 each.

I’ve never had a Facial before and my skin felt amazing… a few days later I broke out, of course. During the facial she plucked my blackheads, it was painful. “I thought this was meant to be relaxing,” I complained. “No pain, no gain,” was the offensive reply. But really afterwards it was worth the pain.

The massage was divine. Not that we took a moment once to stop talking. We talked the entire 2.5 hours we were in there. But really it was extremely relaxing.

Before long the time was up and we left our Zen state for cocktail hour at the Hard Rock Café. On one of the upper levels overlooking the beach and the luxurious pool we walked in for one hour of fun. Cocktails, bears, soft drinks all free, served with other little nibbles – cakes, sandwiches, etc. 

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I tried some amazing drinks, but the Rockstar has to be my favourite. The table was laden with drinks as we ordered so many to not run out by the 1-hour timeframe. Josh was running late with sleepy kids so we ordered for him as well. I had my fill for dinner, but some people were still hungry so we headed to Long Beach again for a bite to eat. 

We swam in the pool, then we brought our guests to see our house and watched a movie. It was very late when Josh drove them back to the hotel as we milked every moment of our time together. Including the youngsters who were up until midnight… longer then Sharelle made it, haha. 

Day Four

Home time. We drove Sharelle, Quintin and Indy to the airport. We shared a last meal of stale sandwiches, over priced cookies and hot chocolate. As we hugged goodbye there was tears and sorrow. The goodbye was hard and not sweet at all. But the miles don’t count with a friendship like this and although we are in completely different countries, whether close or far away ‘Sharelle, you always have a place with me.’

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"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened." – Dr. Seuss

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"I respond to every comment by private email. So please leave me comments, I love chatting to you" -
Posted by Sharelle on
Wow !! What a beautiful blog ! I blushing he he such a compliment you have such a huge heart. I enjoyed every minute of it, yes non stop taking laughing shopping , and that special birthday massage thankyou !
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